What is Root Canal Treatment?
When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected, abscessed or dies, root canal therapy is necessary to save the tooth. It is generally comfortable treatment that can save your tooth and keep your mouth healthy.
You may realize that you have an infected tooth when:
- The tooth is sensitive to hot or cold.
- The tooth hurts with biting or pressure.
- There is throbbing, severe tooth pain.
- The area is swollen.
- You have a bad taste in your mouth.
The pulp becomes infected and an abscess occurs when bacteria invade the inner layers of the tooth, exposing the nerve. The tooth pulp is a soft tissue made up of nerves and blood vessels. It is contained in the pulp chamber that extends from the middle of the tooth down through the tooth roots. Infection and abscesses occurs most commonly through a deep cavity that allows bacteria through the enamel and dentin layers and
into the pulp. Sometimes the pulp simply dies due to a fracture or a blow to the tooth.
To determine if your tooth has an infected pulp, we do a thorough examination. The exam often includes xrays and sometimes includes checking the health of the pulp with a pulp tester. We may also apply heat or cold, tap lightly on the tooth to see if it is sensitive, look for changes in the tooth’s color, or press gently on the gums next to the tooth to check for pain. If we determine that you have an infected tooth, we talk with you about root canal therapy to remove the infection .
What is Pulpitis?
Any time the pulp of a tooth has been injured or irritated, there is a possibility that it may become swollen and painful. This inflammation is called pulpitis. Treating the condition will relieve discomfort and restore the health of your mouth.
You may realize that you have an inflamed tooth when:
- The tooth is sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure.
- The tooth hurts with biting.
- There is throbbing tooth pain.
- The area is swollen.
- The tooth is loose.
- You have a bad taste in your mouth.
You may also be unaware of the problem because there are no symptoms at all.
The tooth pulp is a soft tissue made up of nerves and blood vessels. It is contained in the pulp chamber that extends from the middle of the tooth down through the tooth roots. The pulp can become inflamed for a number of reasons. Occasionally, placing a filling, crown, or other restoration close to the pulp can cause inflammation. Other times, the pulp may become inflamed due to an injury. In both these cases, the pulp may calm down on its own, but sometimes it can die or become infected and abscessed. The pulp also can become infected when tooth decay destroys the outer layers of the tooth and allows bacteria to invade the pulp layer. Sometimes the condition occurs for no apparent reason.
To select the best treatment, we do a thorough examination. The examination often includes xrays and sometimes includes checking the health of the pulp with a pulp tester. We may also apply heat or cold, tap lightly on the tooth to see if it is sensitive, look for changes in the tooth’s color, or press gently on the gums next to the tooth to check for pain. If the pulp is mildly inflamed, we may recommend treatments to ease any discomfort and help the tooth heal.
If the pulp cannot heal itself or is infected, we recommend root canal therapy to remove the infection and save the tooth.
What are the Alternatives to Root Canal Therapy?
Once the inner pulp layer of a tooth has become infected or abscessed, your choices are imited. You could choose to:
- Extract the tooth or delay treatment.
- Save the tooth with root canal therapy.
If you choose to delay treatment, you should know that an infected tooth will never heal on its own. As the infection spreads down the tooth and into your jawbone, the pain may become excruciating. The infection also can become more widespread and potentially threaten your life.
When the pulp of the tooth has been infected, root canal therapy is the best choice for removing infection, saving your tooth, and keeping your mouth and smile healthy.
Root Canal Post-op Instructions
Now that you have had root canal therapy, it is important to follow these recommendations to ensure healing. If we placed a temporary filling or crown on your tooth, avoid chewing for at least 30 minutes to allow the restoration to harden. To keep your temporary restoration in place, avoid eating hard or sticky foods, especially chewing gum. If possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth. It is not a problem for a small portion of a temporary filling to tear away or break off, but if the entire filling wears out, or if a temporary crown comes off, call Dr. Doshi so that it can be replaced.
If we used an anesthetic during the procedure, avoid chewing until the numbness has completely worn off. Your lips, teeth, and tongue may be numb for several hours.
Brush and floss normally.
If antibiotics were prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if all symptoms and signs of infection are gone. To control discomfort, take pain medication before the anesthetic has worn off or as recommended. It is normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal appointment, especially when chewing. To further reduce discomfort or swelling, rinse your mouth three times a day with warm salt water. Use about one teaspoon of salt per glass of warm water.
Call our office if your bite feels uneven, if you have sensitivity or discomfort that increases or continues beyond three or four days, if your temporary filling or crown comes off, or if you have any questions or concerns.
What is Pulp Capping Treatment?
Whenever we must place a restoration close to the pulp of a tooth, there is a possibility that the pulp can become irritated or inflamed. In some cases, we may be able to keep the pulp healthy with a pulp capping procedure.
The pulp capping procedure is used after decay has been removed from the tooth and before we place the filling, crown, or other restoration. The first step is to determine whether pulp
capping is right for your tooth. We confirm that there is no pain in the tooth and that the pulp
is healthy and free of infection.
After we make sure that all the decay has been removed, we clean and disinfect the area. Then a special material is placed over the pulp chamber. This stimulates the inner tooth structure to repair itself and seal bacteria out of the pulp chamber. Depending on your situation, we may place a temporary restoration, or we may place the final filling or crown. After the procedure is complete, we monitor the tooth for several months to make sure the pulp is healing.
The benefits of pulp capping when pulp capping is successful, the procedure can soothe a tooth’s irritated pulp and help it to heal, seal out bacteria, and prevent the need for root canal therapy.